Connecting the dots

Was Powell polite about Clarke because he’s mad at Wolfowitz over Chalabi’s disinformation?

Okay, I’m a slow learner.

I had noticed Colin Powell’s conspicuous refusal to join in the Great Festival of Clarke-Bashing. In fact, Powell said some pretty nice things about Clarke. My guess was that this must reflect Clarke’s professional standing, or perhaps a personal connection that made Powell unwilling to dump on a former colleague.

And I had noticed that the Defense Department was continuing to pay $360,000 a month to Ahmed Chalabi’s group for “intelligence,” even as Chalabi openly boasted about having used disinformation to get the United States to get rid of Saddam Hussein for him.

But I hadn’t figure out that the two were connected until today’s LA Times provided the missing clue. It turns out that Powell, who told what turns out to have been a considerable stretcher about Iraqi WMD capacity to the UN Security Council, isn’t at all pleased about having been used in that way, and is demanding to know who supplied the phony information. Answer: the brother of one of Chalabi’s top assistants.

So perhaps Powell’s kind words about Clarke weren’t just personal. Maybe Powell was the one senior official in the Administration who really supported the invasion only because of the WMD risk.

And maybe, now that it turns out that the information about WMDs was not merely wrong (which can always happen) but deliberately planted on us by the neocons’ chief Iraqi client, Powell believes that Clarke was right, after all, to oppose the invasion in the first place.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: